We are excited to announce that Seattle Children’s new Behavior and Attention Management Program is offering a wide range of integrated services for youth ages 5 to 15* with disruptive behavior or attention problems.

The Behavior and Attention Management Program follows a stepped care model built around group-based parent behavior management training (children are required to participate only in limited instances). Research shows that providing training and support for caregivers on healthy, safe and effective behavior management strategies is the best therapeutic approach to help youth struggling with behavior or attention.

Many of the services offered are not new but they have been brought under the umbrella of Behavior and Attention Management to provide families with a streamlined experience that gets them in the door more quickly and ensures continuity between the different treatments available.

“Our hope is that organizing all services within a cohesive line of care will enable us to optimize processes, reduce wait times and ensure patients are able to access treatment sooner and don’t ‘fall through the cracks,’” says Dr. Erin Gonzalez, co-leader of the program.

Who is the program for?

The Behavior and Attention Management Program helps parents and caregivers address mild to serious behavior problems in children ages 5 to 15, including:

  • Getting easily distracted or off task
  • Complaining, whining and not doing what you ask
  • Yelling, screaming and being defiant
  • Verbal abuse, like yelling at an adult or cursing, or making verbal threats
  • Being physically aggressive or destroying property
  • Leaving the house without permission during an escalation (PDF)

Many patients in the program have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but that is not a requirement for being in the program. Many patients have other conditions like oppositional defiant disorder; disruptive mood dysregulation disorder; or other attention, adjustment or conduct disorders.

 

The Behavior and Attention Management Program does not offer these services

 

Specialized treatments and services

The Behavior and Attention Management Program offers patients an initial consultation or, alternatively, a diagnostic evaluation for ADHD.

Families are then offered services that range in intensity from community classes (moderate intensity) to treatment programs (high-intensity) — again, focused on parent and caregiver training and support. Most parents will be directed to the SuperParenting treatment program to start.

Services:

  • Higher-acuity services (time intensive; require participants to commit to full participation):
    • Disruptive Behavior Crisis Clinic (ages 5 to 12). Learn more.
    • Foundations for Managing Disruptive Behavior (ages 5 to 12)
    • Intensive Caregiver Group for Managing Disruptive Behavior (ages 5 to 12)

 

Access to services

The average wait time for an initial visit ranges from 6 to 12 months depending on whether consultation or full evaluation is needed. After the initial visit, there may be another wait of up to 2 to 4 months until beginning a group treatment program.

  • Access to higher-acuity services is limited. Currently, the program has capacity for one to two new higher-acuity patients each week. We do not keep a wait list. Program staff are monitoring the number of higher-acuity referrals received to help justify adding resources in the future. When the team is unable to see a higher-acuity patient due to capacity constraints, they will communicate with the referring provider and help the family access our less acute services if that is an appropriate option.

 

How to refer a patient

For most Behavior and Attention Management Program services, providers should submit a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) and note “Behavior and Attention Management Program.” If the patient only or primarily needs behavioral treatment rather than a full ADHD diagnostic evaluation, please clearly indicate that on the referral for quicker triage and scheduling, as these patients will receive a consultation and access to services sooner (write “parent behavior management training” or “treatment” or “parent groups,” for example).

 

The Behavior and Attention Management Program is co-led by Tyler Sasser, PhD, and Erin Gonzalez, PhD, in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

* The 5 to 15 age range is new. As of April 1, 2023, we are no longer able to accept adolescents ages 16 and up in either the Behavior and Attention Management Program or our PEARL Evaluation Clinic.

 

For more information

Behavior and Attention Management Program

Disruptive Behavior Crisis Clinic

Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine resources 

 

Resources for providers